Shalefield Stories: Residents on the Frontlines of Fracking Share their Stories in New Booklet

Environment Texas

Shalefield Stories: Residents on the Frontlines of Fracking Tell Their Personal Stories in New Booklet

AUSTIN — As residents of Azle, Texas call for action after a string of earthquakes likely related to injection of fracking wastewater, other Texans on the front lines of fracking recounted their stories of illness, water contamination, and damage to their livelihoods due to dirty drilling operations. Environment Texas Research & Policy Center presented the residents’ Shalefield Stories, a new booklet being distributed nationwide, as the latest evidence demonstrating the need for new standards to limit the damage from fracking.

“Behind the alarming numbers that outline fracking’s environmental impacts, there are real people whose lives have been gravely impacted by these polluting practices,” said Dani Neuharth-Keusch, Field Associate with Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. “These are their stories, and it is our responsibility to heed their words of warning on fracking.”

People recalling their experiences with fracking damage in Shalefield Stories include:

  • Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas who was forced to leave his town to protect the health of his family after fracking and associated industrial activities created an unlivable situation.
  • Deborah Rogers of Fort Worth, Texas, who experienced nausea and severe headaches and nosebleeds, as well as asphyxiation of goats and chickens, after toxic fracking chemicals were found on her property.
  • The Ruggiero family of Wise County, Texas, who suffered debilitating health problems and significant losses in property value due to air and water contamination from a spill left unreported by a nearby fracking operation.

One common theme running through Shalefield Stories is that people have become sick living on the frontlines of fracking, like Deborah Rogers and the Ruggieros.

“I have seen first hand the devastation this industry causes, and it is the same devastation everywhere drilling occurs — contaminated water, health issues, destruction of property values, foul air,” Tim Ruggiero said. “Sadly, the people in these stories are only a fraction of the thousands that have been negatively impacted.”

Shalefield Stories illustrates just a few of the tragedies from the frontlines of fracking in Texas, which contains half of the drilling rigs in the U.S. and one quarter of the rigs in the world.

“It is time for people to wake up,” said Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus of Dish, Texas. “Shalefield Stories shows [us] what will continue to happen if we do nothing. It is time for all Americans to put down the remote for their favorite reality show, and get involved. Our children are depending on us.”

Environment Texas is calling on Texas’ congressional delegation to support CLEANER (H.R. 2825) — a bill by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). 

In 2012 alone, fracking operations in Texas produced 260 billion of gallons of toxic waste. Laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive material, this waste puts drinking water sources at risk. There is growing evidence that disposal of this fracking wastewater is responsible for the recent rise in earthquakes in Texas. However, injection wells are exempt from earthquake testing rules because oil and gas waste is exempt from RCRA. 

“We have known the damage of dirty drilling for some time. But now we are hearing it from the source, from the very people living on the frontlines of fracking,” concluded Dani Neuharth-Keusch. “We urge our decision-makers in Congress to close the loopholes exempting fracking from our nation’s hazardous waste law so we can swiftly protect Texans on the frontlines of dirty drilling.”


Environment Texas is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.